23 Public Speaking Secrets from the Greats

Today’s post comes from Carol Brown at OnlineCollege.org. Carol contacted me and suggested that I might find one of her articles interesting. I do, and I think you will too.
Carol has gleaned 23 public speaking secrets from well-known people. As she says, while everyone has their favourite tip, nobody says it better than the great speakers. Each secret is accompanied by a quotation and a link where you can read more about that particular point. It is an excellent reference source.
Of the 23 secrets that are listed, here are 11 that I particularly liked:

  1. Be persistent and practice: “All the great speakers were bad speakers at first.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson (How could I not like this, given that it is the tagline for Manner of Speaking?)
  2. Know your purpose: “You shouldn’t give a public speech unless you want to make something happen.” – Tom Peters
  3. Be a real person: “If you have enthusiasm and excitement, if you show your humanity up there, that’s when the audience starts to warm up.” – Richard LaGravenese
  4. Believe in your message: “If you believe in something, you can talk about it. All my life I have been very, very shy. To get in front of a crowd drives me nuts, but I have a message to deliver.” – Jack LaLanne
  5. Offer a moving speech that sticks with your audience: “Have a unifying theme tethered to a powerful, inspirational story.” – Ken Starr
  6. Don’t bore your audience with unnecessary data — deliver a simple message: “I speak at nursery schools; benefactors ask me to speak for Earth Day. It is invariably the most challenging presentation I ever give, but I force myself to do that because it really forces me to get down and think [about] the basic message and how can I communicate it as simply as possible.” – Allen Hershkowitz
  7. Speak for your audience, not yourself: “The single most important thing you can do is put yourself in other people’s heads and hearts. I think about what they truly need, not what I want to talk about. Whatever size the group, whether five or 5,000 people, you have to at least try to imagine what each of those individuals are there for.” – Tony Robbins
  8. Resist the urge to speed through, and get attention by speaking slowly: “Slow down, especially at the beginning of a speech. You’ll get the audience’s attention by pausing.” – Bob Kerrey
  9. Never underestimate the power of eye contact: “When I’m preaching, I’m not speaking to 800 people – I’m trying to speak to each person individually. I move from west to east, making contact with people for a second or two. If there’s someone who seems disengaged, I’ll keep coming back in hopes of reaching them. But you have to be very careful: If you’re talking about, say, adultery, you don’t want the person you are looking at thinking that you’ve found them out!” – Rev. Kieran Harrington
  10. Dream about your speech at night: “The night before a speech, I go over my notes right before I go to sleep. There’s almost something magical about it. You remember the words in a dreamlike state and it helps your brain absorb the material.” – Sally Koslow
  11. Consider the unknown first: “A man does not know what he is saying until he knows what he is not saying.” – G. K. Chesterton

You can read the entire article here.

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6 Replies to “23 Public Speaking Secrets from the Greats”

  1. Great collection of great speakers’ attitudes. Based on my own experience with people who are keen on getting there, I’d say that especially #3 – “Be a real person” – is challenging. Where enthusiasm and excitement are concerned, they just don’t dare to act as if they were in a bar chatting with friends or at a party shouting in terror when they are facing an empty fridge. This step of leaving behind the “OMG, what will they think of me…” is so extremely difficult for them. A great way, probably the only way, to break this vicious circle is constructive feedback by others.

    1. Florian,
      Thanks for the comment. I agree with you about how difficult it can be for some people. When a speaker is focused too much on himself (for whatever reason) the audience will pick up on it. Ironically, it is when a speaker focuses on the audience and “forgets” himself that he shows his true self. And that is what you want the audience to see – the real thing.

  2. Thanks very much. It’s really very helpful. It’s my passion to become great public speaker. Hoping for more such tips in future. Thanks

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